Senators voted Thursday to recommend that the U.S. end its assistance to Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen and put the blame for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi squarely on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Dec. 13)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump formally vetoed a measure that would force his administration to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The veto, the second of Trump’s presidency, overrode a bipartisan measure earlier this month that would have stopped the U.S. from providing logistical, intelligence and targeting assistance to Saudi Arabia in the conflict with Yemen.
The resolution served as a rebuke to Trump and Saudi leaders and highlighted a growing unease with America’s role in the grisly conflict, which has left thousands of civilians dead and millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation. Currently, the U.S. provides billions of dollars of arms to the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.
“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump said in a letter to the Senate.
The war in Yemen is a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as the two regimes battle for influence in the region. The Saudis, along with the United Arab Emirates, have engaged in a deadly bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
The war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. An estimated 85,000 children have died of starvation over the last several years, according to Save the Children.
An ‘ultimately immoral’ war: Senate approves measure to force US withdrawal from Yemen despite Trump’s veto threat
Trump defended the U.S. role in the war, highlighting that no Americans were physically in Yemen fighting the conflict and U.S. citizens live in the surrounding countries that have been targeted by attacks from Yemen rebels. He wrote abandoning the conflict would allow an “inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia.”
Trump also blamed the Senate for the pace in which his appointees have been confirmed, arguing that vacancies in his administration have impeded helping end the conflict.
“Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, inaction by the Senate has left vacant key diplomatic positions, impeding our ability to engage regional partners in support of the United Nations-led peace process.”
The president also pointed out the move would hurt relations with foreign powers and “its efforts to curtail certain forms of military support would harm our bilateral relationships, negatively affect our ongoing efforts to prevent civilian casualties and prevent the spread of terrorist organizations such as al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, and embolden Iran’s malign activities in Yemen.”
The baby twitches his legs in pain. He’s crying but he is so dehydrated his eyes can’t produce tears. His belly is inflated as taut as a balloon. He’s a victim of Yemen’s three-year civil war. (May 3)
Over the last several months, lawmakers have grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.
In a break with the president, Congress voted for the first time earlier this month to invoke the War Powers Resolution to try to stop U.S. involvement in a foreign conflict, despite a threat that Trump would veto the measure. House approval of the resolution came earlier this month on a 247-175 vote. The Senate vote last month was 54-46.
Congressional support for ending the U.S. role in Yemen gained momentum last year amid bipartisan outrage over the Saudi government’s role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Lawmakers in both parties believe that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was complicit in Khashoggi’s killing.
Rep. Ro Khanna, the lead author of the House’s Yemen bill, called Trump’s veto “a painful missed opportunity,” noting that the measure was bipartisan. He vowed to continue putting pressure on the president to end U.S. support in the conflict.
“From a president elected on the promise of putting a stop to our endless wars, this veto is a painful missed opportunity,” the California Democrat s. “The Yemen War Powers Resolution was a bipartisan, bicameral effort to end the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and supported by some of the president’s most trusted Republican allies.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who authored the Senate version, was also disappointed with Trump’s decision.
“The people of Yemen desperately need humanitarian help, not more bombs,” he said on Twitter. “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Trump has rejected the bi-partisan resolution to end U.S. involvement in the horrific war in Yemen.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president to “put peace before politics” and work with Democrats in the House to “advance an enduring solution to end this crisis and save lives.”
“The conflict in Yemen is a horrific humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Yet the President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress and perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis.”
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY; Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/16/donald-trump-veto-resolution-yemen-war/3491383002/